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Japanese Bunraku puppets captured on the page


Rare book of the day is Masterpieces of Japanese Puppetry. Sculptured Heads of the Bunraku Theater by Saito Seijiro.

Bunraku is traditional Japanese puppet theater and I bizarrely learned about this 400-year-old art while reading a Japanese-themed Thea Stilton adventure book to my daughter who was five at the time. The puppets are very elaborate and can be up to two-and-a-half to four feet tall. These books from 1958 contain 32 full color tipped-in plate illustrations of Bunraku puppet heads. Saito Seijiro was a noted Bunraku collector and expert, and Roy Andrew Miller provides a foreword for this English translation.

Sadly, the number of Bunraku troupes is decreasing. There used to be hundreds of troupes in Japan and now it’s down to double digits.

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Richard Davies

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